No matter if you’re a seasoned camper or just beginning to explore the wilderness, there’s no denying that having canned foods for camping is an important part of any expedition. They’re lightweight, easy to carry, and don’t need refrigeration – so you can even take them on a hike! The problem with this is that it can be difficult to decide what kind of food to bring with you when shopping at your local grocery store. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our 15 favourite canned foods – all perfect for camping!
What Types Of Canned Food Are Ideal For Camping?
Of course, you can bring canned vegetables and fruits when camping – but we like to recommend bringing things that will give your meals a little more flavour. This way, you won’t get sick of eating the same thing every day because there aren’t many options for cooking up tasty dishes with just cans.
1. Canned Meat
Canned chicken, beef, or pork will all work great when you’re out on an excursion. Since they’re pre-cooked, all you’ll need to do is heat them up and enjoy! They come in many different flavours and cuts so you can get a bit creative with your meals.
2. Canned Chili
Canned chili works well with just about anything, including hot dogs and buns for an easy dinner. It’s also perfect to serve over rice or noodles once it has been heated up. Some canned chilis include beans while others do not. They also come in different spice levels and sometimes with different seasoning blends.
3. Canned Beans
Beans are a great source of protein that can be combined with any number of other foods. They work best when combined with rice, pasta or vegetables. There are many types of beans to enjoy including kidney, pinto and black beans. You can also bring dried beans along on your camping trip, although these will take significantly longer to cook.
4. Canned Soup
Soup is a great option for a meal that has some hydration in it as well. One great thing about this food is that there are so many varieties, so you can literally eat soup every night and have a different flavor each time. Soups also come in condensed and low sodium options, so you can choose which one works best for your needs. Cans of broth are also a great option when camping and can be added to other foods for additional flavor and sauciness.
5. Canned Vegetables
Canned vegetables work great when paired up with rice or potatoes, and also make for easy snacks throughout the day (just open and eat!). Just like beans, they’re full of protein which will help to keep you full and energized. Some of the best canned vegetables include corn, peas, and carrots.
6. Canned Fruit
Fruit is great for dessert, but it’s also nice to have some on hand in case you feel like you need a quick energy boost after a long day of hiking. Some common canned fruits include pineapple, peaches, and pears. They come in water, pectin, or sugar water. In addition to canned fruit, you can purchase fruit in plastic cups if you want to ditch the can opener.
7. Canned Bread
Molasses bread is a great camping food because it requires no refrigeration, and can be toasted up in a pan or over an open flame. You can use this bread to complement soup or chili, or you can even eat it as is. If you’re looking for a sweeter variety to eat for breakfast or dessert, there is a variety that comes with raisins to up the sweetness.
8. Canned Ravioli
Ravioli is a great meal to have while camping because it provides a wonderful balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates with plenty of flavours. There are many variations available including cheese-filled, beef, and chicken.
9. Canned Macaroni and Cheese
This option is perfect for anyone looking for a comfort meal while in the outdoors. This item can be a standalone meal or combined with other canned meats or vegetables for additional sustenance. The noodles hold up surprisingly well in the can so you don’t have to worry about an excessively mushy dish.
10. Canned Fish
You can purchase many varieties of canned fish that will hold up well while camping. Canned tuna and salmon are some of the most popular options, as they can be eaten straight out of the can or used to top a salad or pasta dish for extra flavour. Some other choices include sardines and anchovies. Oysters and clams are also available for those who like shellfish. Go ahead and combine these with some vegetables and the next item on our list.
11. Canned Spaghetti Sauce
Spaghetti sauce is great because you can use it to top off just about any food that you are cooking on your camping trip. It’s also a good way to liven up some canned vegetables. You can find different flavours of spaghetti sauce such as fire-roasted, garlic-infused, and basil.
12. Canned Stew
Canned stews are a wonderful option in case you aren’t able to get a fire going, or if it’s raining out and your campfire is getting soaked. These meals come with plenty of meat and vegetables already inside – so they’re easy to make without any extra work involved.
Spam is a favorite of many for camping trips, and it’s also popular in Hawaii and the Philippines. It’s made out of pork shoulder and ham, so it’s similar to certain pork dishes. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated either, making it great when you’re looking for high-quality protein without a cooler.
14. Canned Milk
Canned milk is a great option for those who want creamer for coffee or tea, cereal on their camping trip, or anything else that they might want to add milk into. There are sweetened and unsweetened varieties available. Milk is also a great option for when you need hydration, and it comes in low-fat options as well.
15. Canned Rice
Rice is a great option for camping because it’s easy to cook and can be paired with just about anything. Much like noodles or beans, this item can also be purchased dry and cooked at your campfire, but this will take a lot more time. Canned rice may come in certain flavours, with small amounts of vegetables added, or even in a broth.
Benefits of Using Canned Food While Camping
Canned food is perfect for camping because it has a long shelf life, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and takes up very little space.
Many people think that canned foods are high in salt or contain lots of preservatives – but this isn’t always true. In fact, many brands have significantly reduced the amount of sodium found in their products to make them healthier for those who are trying to avoid this in their diet.
In addition, many canned foods have an incredibly long shelf life. In fact, most of the items on our list will keep for several years before they expire if properly stored. This means that you can buy a few cans at a time without worrying about them going bad any time soon. And if you have any leftover on your camping trip, you’ll be able to take them home and use them next time.
Canned food is also lightweight, which makes it easy to carry on a hike or even pack for travel when you’re camping at another location. It’s easier to transport canned foods than fresh produce because there are no bulky boxes or bags of groceries – just the one can.
If you’re experiencing rain during your camping trip and don’t have any means to start a fire or heat source, canned food can be safely eaten at room temperature or cold. While this may not be your favourite way to eat a meal, it’s better than going hungry or risking it with foods that aren’t room temperature stable.
Other Great Camping Foods That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
In addition to canned food, there are many other great options for your trip that won’t necessitate a cooler. We will divide these foods into categories for easy reference.
Breakfast Foods That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
Camping is the perfect time to enjoy some hearty, hot breakfast foods that will keep you full until lunchtime rolls around.
- Instant oatmeal packets: These are great because they only require a few tablespoons of cold water to prepare them in the morning, eliminating the need to carry milk or cream.
- Breakfast bars: These are another great option for those who don’t want to bother with preparing their breakfast in the mornings before leaving on a hike.
- Dried fruit: It’s easy to bring dried fruits that won’t spoil quickly and can last several days without any refrigeration.
- Fresh fruit: Certain fruits will hold up well for a breakfast such as apples, oranges, and bananas.
Snack Foods That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
When you’re in the outdoors, it can be difficult to find a place to sit down and eat. For this reason, many people just pack their snacks into plastic bags when they head out for the day – which doesn’t require refrigeration.
- Crackers: These are great for snacking between meals, and they don’t require any preparation in the morning to pack along with you.
- Jerky: This is a favourite among campers because it’s a high protein, low-fat food that keeps well without refrigeration (and tastes really good when paired with cheese).
- Dried fruit: This is another great option because dried fruits can last several days without refrigeration.
- Trail mix or granola bars: There are several brands of these on the market that don’t need to be refrigerated, and most taste great even when eaten cold.
Lunches That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
Lunches can be interchanged with snack items and are an important meal to be able to prepare quickly since midday is usually when we are the most active.
- Bagels and peanut butter: These can be eaten cold and taste great when topped with lox or smoked salmon.
- Baked potatoes: If you’re camping in a cooler climate, then baked potatoes are an easy lunch that doesn’t need to be refrigerated since they can stay warm for several hours from their heat source alone – not to mention the delicious toppings you can put on them.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches: They’re delicious, they’re easy to make in the morning before you head out for the day, and they don’t require any refrigeration.
- Tuna Salad Sandwiches: There are many preflavored tuna mixes that come in cans and pouches that can be directly put onto your bread of choice.
Dinners That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
Dinners usually require several ingredients, many of which that we store in the fridge. You can avoid this issue by combining several room-temperature stable foods into a well-rounded supper.
- Chili: This is a great option because you can literally use anything you have on hand to add to the chili such as grains, beans, or vegetables. Chilis can come in canned forms or dehydrated.
- Rice dishes: There are many styles of rice that don’t require refrigeration, such as brown rice or wild rice. These make excellent sides with dinner, and they’re easy to prepare before you head out for the day.
- Pasta dishes: Pasta doesn’t require refrigeration unless it’s made with fresh ingredients, which can spoil quickly. However, there are plenty of delicious pastas that don’t need to be refrigerated because they’re filled with dried vegetables and spices instead of dairy products. Simply add these noodles to water to reconstitute and enjoy.
- Chickpea pita wrap: This is a great option for vegetarians because it can be eaten cold or hot. Bring a shelf-stable dressing to add some extra flavour.
- Vegetable and Bean Stew: All of these ingredients won’t require refrigeration and can be prepped and cooked over your fire easily in a pot, pan, or foil pouch.
Desserts That Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
Even desserts can be prepared during a camping trip without a cooler or refrigeration.
- Fruit salad: This is a great option because it’s easy to make in large batches ahead of time, doesn’t require any heating up, and tastes delicious when served with or on top of your favourite cake or pudding.
- Pudding: There are many flavours of pudding that don’t require refrigeration, and the foil packs make for easy transport. All you need to do is add milk or water when it’s time to eat!
- Cake: This one might be a little counterintuitive because cakes usually get soggy when they aren’t kept in the fridge, but you can avoid this issue by bringing dry cake mix that only needs water or milk to be added.
- Cookies: Most commercially-made cookies don’t require refrigeration and taste delicious at room temperature or even slightly warmed up from your campfire.
- S’mores: These are a classic camping staple and don’t require any refrigeration! All you need are marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers for this traditional and comforting dessert.
- Hot chocolate: Hot chocolate packets are another favourites of many campers because they taste good and can be mixed with water or milk to make a creamy drink. Don’t forget that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!
What Foods Can Be Canned at Home?
If you grow fresh produce in your garden or have extra produce on you, you may want to consider canning your own food for your camping trip. Keep in mind that homemade canning uses glass jars instead of tin cans, so these canned products can’t be placed directly on your campfire or grill. However, they still won’t require refrigeration and will stay shelf-stable for quite some time.
Some foods that are easy to can at home include:
Peas or Beans: These are great for protein and they can last several years without refrigeration.
Vegetables: Veggies such as carrots, corn, beets, and turnips are good choices for home canning. These are also great to can at home because they last for several years instead of just a few months on the shelf before going bad.
Spaghetti Sauce: You can make your own spaghetti sauce at home by adding vegetables, fruits, meats, or fish to create delicious flavors. Bring along some shelf-stable noodles and you have a wonderful dinner in just minutes.
Jams and Preserves: These are great to bring along when traveling because they’re not only delicious but shelf-stable as well. They also make a good dessert after your meal or a tasty spread for crackers during snack time.
How To Can Food at Home
It’s not too challenging to create your own delicious canned food at home. With a few affordable ingredients and a bit of experimentation, you can make anything you love.
- Jars: If you’re canning at home, then you’ll need to have jars on hand. There are many sizes of glass jars available for purchase online or via mail-order catalogues that will fit any size recipe.
- Lids and Rings: These should be purchased as a set so they match perfectly as well as to ensure they fit your jars properly.
- Jar lifter: This is an essential tool to use when canning because it’s sturdy and makes it easy to remove hot glass jars from the oven or stove while cooking food.
- Canning rack for boiling water bath method: These make removing hot jars easier by lowering them into a pot of boiling water.
- Canning funnel: This is a must-have tool to keep food from spilling into the jar while filling them, particularly when canning with hot liquids such as juices or sauces.
- Fresh food to can
How To Preserve Food For Camping Using The Boiling Water Method
- Prepare glass jars: Wash them thoroughly while making sure they don’t contain any cracks or chips so that it’s safe to use.
- Place jars in the oven: Preheat the oven to 250°F and place your clean glass jars inside so they heat up while you prepare food for canning.
- Prepare food: Fill a large pot with about an inch of water or enough to cover each jar by at least two inches when it’s submerged, which makes it easier to remove jars from the oven after cooking.
- Add lids and rings: Once your food is prepped, fill glass jars about halfway with prepared food then add a lid and ring on top of each jar before placing them into the pot of boiling water.
- Remove jars from the oven: After about 15 minutes, remove the hot glass jars from the oven and place them on top of a towel or cooling rack to cool slowly without being exposed to too much cold air that may cause cracking in the jar.
- Boil for 15 minutes: Submerge each jar in boiling water using a canning rack so they’re covered by at least two inches of water.
Once the jars have cooled completely, store your food in a cool dry place until you’re ready to use it on your next camping trip!
Is Dehydrated Food Good for Camping?
Dehydrated food is a great option for camping because it doesn’t require refrigeration and can last a long time without going bad. It’s also lightweight, making it easy to carry with you on any hike or backpacking trip that lasts several days.
You can dehydrate your own food by using a food dehydrator to make your favorite fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and even prepared meals.
You can also purchase pre-dried foods to bring with you on your camping trip.
It can be a challenge to keep your food cold on a camping trip, never mind other perishables such as milk, especially if you’re backpacking or setting up in primitive or rustic campsites.
However, if you’re bringing along canned foods on your next camping trip, then you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best-preserved food available while also saving money and time on your trip.
When camping with primarily canned foods, make sure to select a good variety. You will want different flavors so that you’re satisfied with your meal, all while keeping it as healthy and safe to eat as possible.
Don’t skimp on finding canned meals that will have a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, since you will need lots of energy during your outdoor activities.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can experiment with canning your own food! This way you can have prized meals such as mom’s famous beef stew without needing to spend a fortune on canned food that may not be as tasty.
Happy camping and happy canning!